As the NFLPA leadership, including executive director DeMaurice Smith, new president Eric Winston, and a newly-elected Executive Committee, prepares to meet with the NFL, union spokesman George Atallah has provided a quote to PFT regarding Tuesday’s plan.
“We look forward to the meetings today that we expect will focus on the workplace environment,” Atallah said. “This is an important issue we discussed at our player representative meetings and we know they discussed it at their owners meetings.
“We have seen reports about other issues that may be discussed today and we are always happy to listen to those ideas, but we have not seen formal proposals about those other reported issues. We hope to make progress on improving the NFL workplace for everyone in our business.”
Those “other issues” include, as we reported Monday, potential expansion of the playoffs. While Winston has said he favors it, the collective bargaining dance compels coyness when it comes to things that one side of the table wants. Even if the players prefer expanded playoffs, they can get more from the league if they act like they don’t care — or if they can sell the notion that they’re against it.
While it may be too late to persuade the NFL that the NFLPA opposes expanded playoffs, the league seems to want expanded playoffs more than the union. Which could help the union get something in return for agreeing to something that actually helps the players by generating hundreds of millions of revenue both sides will share.
Or maybe the talks will go nowhere. As one league insider pointed out on Monday, “The problem with the current NFL and NFLPA dynamic is that no one wants to give anything unless they can get something in return, even if it is good for both sides. There is no trust. Something that is good for both sides doesn’t have to be a quid pro quo.”
The point is accurate, but that has less to do with the specific relationship between the sides and everything to do with the nature of collective bargaining. The challenge, when something one side wants benefits both sides, is to come up with something else that benefits both sides that the other side can ask for in return.